If life stinks, move away from the outhouse.
My grandparents’ house was a wonderful place to visit as a child. I loved everything about it – except the outhouse. Spiders and flies seemed to love the outhouse; I didn’t. Pine just isn’t as comfortable as porcelain. Plus, it was a long way from the house. And, it stank. Especially on a blazing summer day! Even a kid like me figured out pretty quickly that, to avoid that stink, you shouldn’t play too close to the outhouse.
The apostle Paul compared his old life to dung (Philippians 3:8). It stank. And he wisely moved as far away from it as possible. He also wrote that we “reap what we sow” (Galatians 6:7).
In other words, when life stinks, as much as we would like to blame it on others, it may be that we’re too close to our own sin. If I’m mean to others, for example - if I have a hot temper, often explode with angry outbursts, or I’m constantly critical and insulting, it should be no surprise to be disliked and lonely. Life stinks because I’m too close to the outhouse.
If I’m unambitious about education and lazy about work, if I spread office gossip and stir up trouble at work, is it unexpected that I might have difficulty holding a good job? My career stinks when I’m too close to the outhouse.
If I’m oblivious to my spouse’s emotional needs, if I’m self-centered, always wanting my own way, or if I fail to be faithful, you can bet my marriage will have an unpleasant odor.
Granted, we aren’t the only ones living in our neighborhood. People around us have outhouses, too, and sometimes it’s the smell of theirs that stinks up our lives. A drunk driver crashes into my car. That stinks. But that’s his outhouse, not mine.
Same with marriages and jobs and friendships and everywhere else. The aroma from other people’s sin never stays only in their backyard. But, we must remember that the sin that smells strongest to us is our own.
The good news is that we don’t have to live next to the outhouse. Paul’s dung had been removed and ours can be too. God offers to clean up our lives and teach us how to move to a cleaner, better smelling life.
If life stinks, why not move away from the outhouse?